If you’re an aspiring singer and you’re wondering how to start off on the right foot, you’re a smart guy/gal! Yes, because you already know that it’s important to avoid acquiring bad habits now that would be very difficult to erase later. It’s better not to underestimate the importance of building a solid foundation because it will then give you the opportunity to reinforce your skills with ease and effectiveness. In particular, there are a couple of factors which I think it’s worth focusing on to be able to calibrate your voice and, above all, your perception of it.
5 Basic Singing Tips
These are my 5 singing tips for beginners, just my modest advice for anyone who’s approaching the beautiful art of singing.
1. Work on Your Pitch
It’s no mystery that singing requires a good ear. We need to sing in key, especially when we’re accompanied by perfectly tuned instruments like keyboards. Some people are naturals at this, some people need a little extra work to reach pitch accuracy. Many singers tend to rely on pitch correction (Autotune & Co.) and overlook this aspect, but, call me integralist, I think being able to sing in tune should be requirement number one for any singer.
False tones are not pleasant to hear, and we don’t want to annoy our audience, do we?
Of course, some imprecision here and there while singing live is acceptable, we are human and our instrument can be influenced by so many factors that it’s difficult to be always 100% accurate! Analyze your macro-problems first: can you sing in key? Are you mostly sharp? Or flat? To get your pitch always spot on, train your ear to build the ability to tell whether you’re in tune or not (sing intervals), then work on your vocal emission to be sure you’re in control of the sound you’re producing (try using a tuning app).
2 – Drop the Mic
If you’re just starting singing, don’t forget to make some practice without a microphone. Try learning first what your voice sounds like naturally, and develop an “organic” voice emission. This is very important to build volume and understanding resonance. If you want some sort of amplification sing in the good old shower, or in any room with a nice reverberation. When you’re there, be mindful of the changes in volume and intensity you hear when you’re playing with dynamics, singing in chest voice, head voice or falsetto.
3 – Find Your Real Voice
This part is tricky because you have to really get to know yourself and your instrument. When you’re first learning, sing naturally, don’t try to produce a particular sound, find your real voice instead. Sometimes singers tend to manipulate their voice because they like to sound in a specific way, so they may be extremely nasal or always use twang. Try to sing in your real voice and use those techniques only here and there, ‘cause you can leverage them to add taste, color, and dimension to your performance.
4 – Always warm up
This is a mistake I’ve been guilty of myself for quite some time before admitting that it is quintessential to warm up properly, especially when exploring the limits of your vocal range. Phonation is produced by a system of laryngeal muscles and ligaments, so just like you wouldn’t start any work out without prepping your body, so you should do before singing. A good warm-up will prevent from harming your vocal folds and will give you so much more satisfaction as you’ll see it is much easier to sing when everything is active and well oiled. Also, try to exercise every day, a quick 10-minute routine a day will help your progress tremendously!
5 – Record Yourself
With all our smartphones and vocal messages, we’re used to hearing our voice, but I’m sure you noticed it sounds different from what we hear while we speak. The same thing applies for singing: what we hear while is not what the listener hears. This is mostly due to the fact that when we speak, our voice hits us both externally, through the ears, and internally, through the neck, mouth, and skull. Our body is a better conductor of low warm tones than the air, so we perceive our voice as being smoother and lower than what we hear from a recording (where we can hear our voice only externally).
It is very helpful to record yourself, even with just your phone. Listening to your recording lets you understand your voice and allows you to check not only the way you sound (you can maybe decide to enrich your warmer tones) but also your intonation, your interpretation, your enunciation, the abuse of vocal fry or whatever. Listen objectively and, in time, minimize the gap between what you think you’re doing and what you’re actually doing.